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Scotland to Adopt UN Sustainable Development Goals

Scottish Government (19/07/15) - Scotland will become one of the first countries in the world to sign up to a new international action plan to tackle poverty and inequality and promote sustainable development across the globe, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The First Minister confirmed that Scotland will adopt the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which outline a number of high-level objectives for countries, including ending poverty, ensuring access to education and achieving gender equality.

The SDGs will form the basis of a global partnership for sustainable development with the engagement of governments, as well as civil society, the private sector, and the United Nations system.

The Goals, which will be formally confirmed at the 70th regular session of the UN’s General Assembly in New York in September, align with the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework, with Scotland’s progress in achieving the objectives subject to formal reporting back to the UN.

The First Minister said:

“The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals offer a vision of the world that I believe people in Scotland share. From ending poverty and hunger; securing education and health services; combating inequality and achieving gender equality, the aims set out by the UN form an agenda for tackling some of the world’s greatest problems.

“Unlike their forerunner – the Millennium Development Goals – these new aims will not be restricted to developing countries. Instead they will be universal, applying to all countries – including Scotland.

“That is why I am delighted to confirm that Scotland has become one of the first nations on Earth to publically sign up to these goals and provide international leadership on reducing inequality across the globe.

“By signing up, we as a government will be required to demonstrate how we will work to achieve these targets by 2030. Fortunately, many of the goals chime with what we in Scotland are already doing to tackle poverty and inequality, not just here at home but globally too.

“We are in the fortunate position that Scotland’s aims and ambitions, enshrined in our National Performance Framework and Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights– such as tackling inequality ensuring access to high quality education and healthcare – are already a key part of the Sustainable Development Goals. This will allow us to measure and report on progress in achieving the SDGs in Scotland.

“So, by becoming one of the first countries in the world to sign up to the new Sustainable Development Goals, Scotland is leading the way on addressing some of the major issues of our time.

“We need to grasp the opportunity that following this path offers to create a fairer Scotland and a better world both now and for generations to come.”

Alexander Mejia, a director of The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) said:

“The United Nations is leading the global dialogue towards a renewed agenda for development. UNITAR has been tasked with the ever important responsibility of building the capacity of national, regional and local governments to ensure the new Sustainable Development Goals are embraced and achieved as planned between 2014 and 2030.

“We are doing it with the support of important partners, including the Scottish Government, and with Scottish expertise based at our international training centre in Edinburgh: CIFAL Scotland. I sincerely admire First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's strategic vision and commend her commitment to the future of our planet.”

The move to develop the Sustainable Development Goals was agreed at the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development held in Brazil in 2012. The Goals will build on the work of the Millennium Development Goals, which gave developing countries a series of high level objectives such as reducing poverty and halting the spread of HIV/Aids.

The Sustainable Development Goals will be formally confirmed at the forthcoming regular session of the General Assembly in September. This follows the agreement stuck this week in Addis Ababa for financing the Goals.

More information is available at -https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainabledevelopmentgoals

The Goals are as follows:

Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

   

Call for Participation: Review of the National Standards for Community Engagement

In light of recent policy developments in Scotland with a focus on strengthening participation and community engagement, the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) and What Works Scotland are currently working with the Scottish Government to review the National Standards for Community Engagement.

The  Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 17 June. Once the Bill comes into force, public bodies will have to meet new duties on how they support the participation of communities in the preparation and delivery of local outcome improvement plans. The guidance accompanying the Bill will refer public bodies and others to the use of the National Standards for Community Engagement (revised and possibly renamed) as a framework to support an effective community engagement process.

Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment Marco Biagi said: 

“This important piece of work will give Scottish communities an early opportunity to engage and participate in the implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill.

“Launched a decade ago, the National Standards for Community Engagement still plays a crucial role in helping public authorities work more efficiently and effectively with communities across Scotland to take part in activities, plans and service delivery in their local area.  

“This review process will strengthen the standards and show communities how they can address inequalities if they have more powers and confidence to shape their own futures.”

SCDC and What Works Scotland are using a variety of methods to involve as many people with an interest in community engagement as possible in the review process. Community Planning Partnerships, VOiCE (Visioning Outcomes in Community Engagement) users and Community Learning and Development Lead Officers are currently being surveyed and a National Standards for Community Engagement Reunion will be held in August this year.  

Alongside the survey and the reunion there will be a series of focus groups, and a number of test sites for early revisions will be established before moving into a second national consultative phase. More information about the events will be made available over the coming weeks.

If you are involved in community engagement activity in any capacity, community member or paid worker, and would like to participate in any of the above review processes, please email Andrew Paterson on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  to let him know your contact details and to express your preference for involvement.

Download the pdf version of this news release here.

Source: SCDC

   

UK Budget 2015: Summary and Scottish Reaction

CSPP (09/07/2015) - In the House of Commons on 8 July George Osborne announced the UK Government’s post-election budget, which was hailed as promoting a “higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare Britain”. The BBC’s budget summary is posted below, and you can see the Office for Budget Responsibility’s accompanying documents for further explanation and analysis.

Scottish reaction to the budget has been varied. In the Herald, business groups expressed a “mixed reaction” to the budget, praising some aspects while questioning others. Meanwhile Third Force News, a leading publication of Scotland’s third sector, said that in charities’ view the budget “hammers families and the poor”.

Among Scottish political parties, the Scotsman reported that the SNP and Conservatives differed over the benefits of the new ‘living wage’, while Scottish Labour and the SNP both criticised tax credit cuts. The BBC reported on Scottish reaction in Westminster to the budget, with Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael accusing the budget proposals of singling out “the young and the poor”. According to the National the Scottish Greens were also critical, with Patrick Harvie MSP arguing that the budget would “see even more wealth concentrated in even fewer hands”.

Below is the BBC’s point by point summary of the budget proposals announced yesterday.

 

Budget 2015 key points: At-a-glance summary

George Osborne has delivered his seventh Budget as chancellor, the first for a majority Conservative government since November 1996. Here is a summary of his main announcements.

Personal taxation and pay

  • New national living wage will be introduced for all workers aged over 25, starting at £7.20 an hour from April 2016 and set to reach £9 by 2020 - giving an estimated 2.5 million people an average £5,000 rise over five years
  • Low Pay Commission to advise on future changes to rates
  • Personal allowance, at which people start paying tax, to rise to £11,000 next year. The government says the personal allowance will rise to £12,500 by 2020, so that people working 30 hours a week on the minimum wage do not pay income tax
  • The point at which people start paying income tax at the 40p rate to rise from £42,385 to £43,000 next year

Welfare and pensions

  • Tax credits and Universal Credit to be restricted to two children, affecting those born after April 2017
  • Income threshold for tax credits to be reduced from £6,420 to £3,850
  • Working-age benefits to be frozen for four years - including tax credits and local housing allowance, but maternity pay and disability benefits exempted
  • Rents in social housing sector will be reduced by 1% a year for the next four years.
  • Subsidies for social housing will be phased out with local authority and housing association tenants in England who earn more than £30,000 - or £40,000 in London - having to pay up to the market rent
  • Disability benefits will not be taxed or means-tested while state pension triple lock to be protected
  • 18-21-year-olds will not be entitled to claim housing benefit automatically, with a new "earn to learn" obligation
  • Employment and Support Allowance payments for new claimants who are deemed able to prepare for work to be "aligned" with Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Green paper published on proposals for "a radical change" to pension saving system
  • The amount people can contribute to their pension tax-free to be reduced for individuals with incomes over £150,000
  • The cost of funding free TV licences for the over-75s transferred from the government to the BBC between 2018 and 2021
  • The annual household benefit cap will be reduced to £23,000 in London and to £20,000 in the rest of Britain.

The state of the economy

  • Economy grew by 3% in 2014
  • 2.4% growth forecast in 2015, 0.1% lower than predicted in March, followed by 2.3%, 2.4% and 2.4% in the following years
  • One million extra jobs predicted to be created by 2020

Public borrowing/deficit/spending

  • Spending to be £83.3bn higher up to 2020 than projected before the election
  • Borrowing set to fall from £69.5bn this year to £43.1bn, £24.3bn and £6.4bn before reaching a £10bn surplus in 2019-20
  • Debt as a share of GDP to fall from 80.3% this year to 79.1%, 77.2%, 74.7%, 71.5% and 68.5% in successive years
  • 1% public sector pay rise to continue for next four years
  • £37bn of further spending cuts by 2020, including £12bn of welfare cuts, £5bn from tax avoidance and a £20bn reduction in departmental budgets

Alcohol, tobacco, gambling and fuel

  • No rise in fuel duty this year with rates continuing to be frozen
  • New VED bands for brand new cars to be introduced from 2017, pegged to emissions for the first year. Subsequently, 95% of car owners will pay a flat fee of £140 a year
  • Alcohol and tobacco duties not mentioned in statement

Business

  • Corporation tax to be cut to 19% in 2017 and 18% in 2020
  • £7.2bn to be raised from clampdown on tax avoidance and tax evasion with HMRC budget increased by £750m
  • Cap on charges imposed by claims management companies and an increase in insurance premium tax to 9.5% from November
  • New apprenticeship levy for large employers
  • Climate Change Levy exemption for renewable electricity to be removed
  • National Insurance employment allowance for small firms to be increased by 50% to £3,000 from 2016
  • Dividend tax credit to be replaced with a new tax-free allowance of £5,000 on dividend income. Rates of dividend tax to be set at 7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1%.
  • Annual investment allowance will be fixed permanently at £200,000 from January 2016

Health and education

  • NHS will receive a further £8bn by 2020, in addition to the £2bn already announced)
  • The maintenance loan will increase to £8,200
  • New university professorships to be created to mark the Queen's 90th birthday
  • £50 million to expand the number of cadet units in state schools

Housing/infrastructure/transport/regions

  • Control over fire services, planning and children's services to be handed to consortium of 10 councils in Greater Manchester
  • Discussions on devolution of services to Sheffield, Liverpool and West Yorkshire
  • £30m for new body, Transport for North, to promote integrated transport - including use of Oyster cards - in the north of England
  • Rent-a-room relief scheme to rise to £7,500

Defence

  • Government to spend 2% of GDP on defence every year, meeting Nato target
  • Spending on defence to rise in real terms - 0.5% above inflation - every year during the Parliament
  • New £1.5bn Joint Security Fund for investment in military and intelligence agencies
  • Recipients of the Victoria Cross and George Cross will see annual pension annuities rise from £2,129 to £10,000, paid for by bank fines. Government to fund memorial to victims of terrorism overseas
   

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